Prosecutors handling the case associated with 4 Ex-Minneapolis officers charged for the death of George Floyd told the judge on Friday that these men need to face the trial together rather than going their separate ways, given the fact that multiple trials would traumatize the family and witnesses.
The evidence & charges are similar for all the officers, and hence it is justified that the trail should be a single one rather than going with multiple sessions. However, the defense attorneys vouched for different trails for each officer, mentioning that the prosecutors might offer antagonistic defense & the evidence piled up against one could affect another’s case.
On May 25th, Floyd, a man of Black origin, died after officer Derek Chauvin happened to press his knee up against the man’s neck leading to breathing issues. Floyd’s merciless death was recorded on camera by bystanders that started protests demanding equal rights for the black community. These protests were violent at times and slowly followed suit all across the globe.
The officers associated with the case were fired from their position right after Floyd died. Chauvin has been charged with 2nd-degree murder & associated crimes. Apart from this, other officers named J. Keung, Thomas Lane, & Tou Thao were charged with aiding & abetting this crime.
According to sportsgrindentertainment.com, Chauvin is being held in the state’s prison. However, the very first time he appeared was after attending the previous hearings held via videoconference in state prison. He refrained from making any possible eye contact while making his way to the hearing with the defendants. However, Kueng and Lane both glanced at their fellow officer as he crossed them in the pathway.
Keith Ellison, the Attorney General, whose office took the lead of the prosecution, was present in the court as well. On Friday, Cahill mentioned that 4 prosecutors from the Hennepin County, including Mike Freeman, the county attorney, are now disqualified from this trial as they had a meeting with the medical examiner for the discussion of the autopsy results.
Cahill also stated that they could function as witnesses given the fact that the reason for Floyd’s death is still disputed. Freeman has run out of any favors with the local activists, given the way the office had handled the cases against the police officers.
Prior to the hearing, more than a dozen protestors gathered out front by the courthouse with loud chants of “No Justice, No Peace.” While one carried a poster stating “Black Lives Matter,” others wore a black-colored helmet with the swim goggles moved back towards the head. As the hearing neared its end, a loud and large crowd gathered outside the court. While some started beating the drums, others started chanting anti-police statements and slogans. They jeered the defense attorneys loudly while they left this courthouse.
According to the prosecutors handling the court filings, the case needs to be tackled with 1 trail as opposed to multiple ones given the fact that the witness statements, policies, body-cam video evidence is the same for all of the accused officers. According to Neal Katyal, the special attorney designated for prosecution had a conversation with Cahill stating that multiple trials might bring in a heavy burden on these witnesses as well as the court. Not just that, justice could also be delayed for months and even for years. Further, the prosecutor also mentioned that bringing in a verdict during the initial trials might prejudice the judgment of the juries for the later trails.
Having a joint trail allows the community to take charge of the verdicts in one go rather than putting them through any trauma of 4 separate jury verdicts. Earl Gray, the Defense attorney representing Lane, mentioned that separate trails would acquit Chauvin, essentially clearing others of the charge. Officers have already started finger-pointing during the court filings. Lane & Kueng’s attorneys argued that their clients being rookies in the job, followed Chauvin for any criminal proceedings and didn’t question his decision. Bob Paule, Thao’s attorney, mentioned that his client’s involvement was completely distinct from others involved in the case. He was assigned for crowd control as others went on to restrain Floyd.
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, wrote in his statement that the defense pitched in by his client would be a tad different. Other officers accused in the case have already started saying that in case Chauvin committed any crime, they had no idea about it and never assisted in the same. He also wrote that the entire blame narrows down to Chauvin.
However, Chauvin also had his fair share of finger-pointing in place. Nelson mentioned that Kueng and Lane were the officers who were the first to respond to this forgery call. The initial contact with Floyd was done by them, after which they called in the paramedic, believing that Floyd had been using something. They failed to elevate this call as an urgent one or gave any medical assistance. Nelson mentioned that Chauvin could easily argue that their inaction was the reason for Floyd’s death.
In case the EMS arrived about 3 minutes sooner, Floyd would have survived. However, Keung & Lane chose to de-escalate this matter instead of remedying it. If the officers recognized signs of opioid overdose, they should have rendered supportive aid by administering naloxone. This could have helped Floyd survive the scenario.
Ben Crump, the attorney representing Floyd and his family members, conversed with the crowd stating that the defense has been highlighting all the wrong aspects of the case, especially drug use, which wasn’t his eminent killer. Rather, Floyd was killed by an overdose of racism and excessive force by the MPD (Minneapolis Police Department).
The attorneys also requested the trial to be moved from the Minneapolis court to someplace else, given the fact that the pretrial publicity related to the case has made it particularly impossible for the accused to get a fair court trial. While Cahill deferred a major chunk of this discussion, he mentioned that he would want to send some questionnaires to the jurors at Hennepin County to understand whether or not they have been moved or affected in any way by the pretrial coverage.
Both the defendants and the prosecutors were split regarding the decision for the jury to remain anonymous. With regard to this, the attorneys mentioned that they had received some angry calls coming from people that think that their clients are completely guilty. They also expressed fear of the jurors being subjected to coercion in case their names go public during the trial.
Also, the prosecutors went on to file new documents that indicated their plan to bring in new evidence from the personnel files dedicated to Thao, Kueng, and Chauvin. The evidence shows instances confirming that the officers used restraints and even acted inappropriately.
According to the prosecutors, seven incidents could be listed in which the alleged Chauvin used neck & upper body restraints on the arrestees dating as early as 2014. Now, in 4 of these cases, the restraint was forced to a point beyond need, including the July 2019 incident, during which Chauvin put in neck restraint over a drunk main leading to complete unconsciousness.